Deloitte kicks off review for external PA support

Deloitte, the ‘Big Four’ accountancy group, is embarking on a root-and-branch review of its public affairs function.

Deloitte head of PR Emma Thorogood said it was ‘just starting the process’ of talking to agencies for support across a ‘broad’ range of issues.

The company does not currently retain a PA agency in the UK and it is understood that it is keen to engage better with the Treasury and think-tanks after losing out to its rivals on big government contracts.

In addition, Deloitte has, alongside rivals PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young, been lobbying Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt to limit their lawsuit liability from parties claiming to have been wronged by companies whose accounts they audit.

The accountants wanted this protection to be inserted as a clause in the Companies Bill, but Hewitt now looks more likely to allow the auditors to write individual ‘capping contracts’ with their clients.

Their concerns followed the demise of Arthur Anderson after disgraced oil giant Enron collapsed, although an Office of Fair Trading report put Anderson’s ruin down to reputational rather than financial damage.

Deloitte itself has been implicated in the controversy over the collapse of Parmalat as its chief auditor, although the Italian dairy group’s accounting irregularity was within a subsidiary audited by another accountancy firm, Grant Thornton.

The company started trading globally under the leaner Deloitte brand name 12 months ago, although the legal entity remains Deloitte & Touche. It reported a 15.5 per cent rise in profits to £374m for the year to 31 May.

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